An Injunction Against the First Amendment

by Walter Brasch   Vera Scroggins of Susquehanna County, Pa., will be in court, Monday morning. This time, she will have lawyers and hundreds of thousands of supporters throughout the country. Representing Scroggins to vacate an injunction limiting her travel will be lawyers from the ACLU and Public Citizen, and a private attorney. The last time Scroggins appeared in the Common Pleas Court in October, she didn’t have lawyers. That’s because Judge Kenneth W. Seamans refused to grant her a continuance. When she was served papers to appear in court, it was a Friday. On Monday, she faced four lawyers representing Cabot Oil and Gas Corp., one of the nation’s largest drillers. Seamans told the 63-year-old grandmother and retired nurse’s … Continue reading

No Merit Badge for This Scout

by Walter Brasch Rex W. Tillerson, a resident of Bartonville, Texas, like many of his neighbors was upset with his city council. That’s not unusual. Many residents get upset at their local governing boards. And so they went to a city council meeting to express their concerns that the council was about to award a construction permit. The residents were upset that the Cross Timbers Water Supply Corp. planned to build a 160-foot tall water tower. That tower would be adjacent to an 83-acre horse farm Tillerson and his wife owned, and not far from their residence. The residents protested, and then filed suit to stop construction. The tower would store water to be sold to companies that needed it … Continue reading

No Area Safe From Fracking

  by Walter Brasch At the time New Jersey established a ban on fracking, it seemed symbolic, much like the moratorium in Vermont, which has no economically recoverable natural gas; the Marcellus Shale, primarily in New York and Pennsylvania, doesn’t extend into New Jersey. New York has a moratorium on fracking until a health impact statement is completed. Pennsylvania. rushing to compete with groundhogs in digging up the state, has no such moratorium. Nor does the state have any plans to conduct extensive research into the health effects of fracking—Gov. Tom Corbett, the gas industry’s cheerleader, cut $2 million from the Department of Health to provide for a public health analysis. As it is, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie exercised … Continue reading

An Injunction Against the Truth

  by Walter Brasch  Monday morning, Oct. 21, 2013. Vera Scroggins, a retired real estate agent and nurse’s aide, was in Common Pleas Court for Susquehanna County, Pa., to explain why a temporary injunction should not be issued against her. Before her were four lawyers and several employees of Cabot Gas and Oil, who accused her of trespassing and causing irreparable harm to the company that had almost $1 billion in revenue in 2012. They didn’t want her on their property they owned or leased in the Marcellus Shale. Scroggins is an anti-fracking activist, someone who not only knows what is happening in the gas fields of northeastern Pennsylvania, but willingly devotes much of her day to helping others to … Continue reading

Jumping Aboard Fracking’s Fossil Fuel Carousel

  by Walter Brasch   Two Pennsylvania legislators who have taken money from—and enthusiastically supported—the natural gas industry have teamed up to now praise coal. State Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Williamsport), chair of the Environmental Resource and Energy Committee, and Rep. Tim Solobay (D-Canonsburg, Pa.) are co-chairs of the newly-established Coal Caucus. It’s a strange move on their part, since both have praised natural gas as the economic future of Pennsylvania. Yaw, in his first run for the Senate in 2008 accepted only $3,700 in campaign contributions from energy companies; the largest were $1,000 donations from Anadarko Petroleum and Chesapeake Energy. In his first re-election campaign in 2012, he received no contributions from the shale gas industry. He didn’t need it. … Continue reading

Tom Corbett’s Sizzle has Fizzled

by Walter Brasch   With his popularity about the same as a hairy wart, Gov. Tom Corbett (R-Pa.) had to make some critical changes in his administration if he has any hope of winning a second term in 2014. There are many things he could have done. He could have increased funding to education. Shortly after he took office, he slashed educational funding, including half the budget of the 14 state-owned universities. But he decided education wasn’t all that important. He could have restored some of the budget to child care services, programs for the disabled, and the state parks and forests. But, he didn’t do that. Tom Corbett could have made his statement for austerity by reducing his out-of-state … Continue reading

Royal Dutch Shell: They’ve Really Got a Friend in Pennsylvania

  by Walter Brasch Royal Dutch Shell, which owns or leases about 900,000 acres in the Marcellus Shale, had a great idea. It wanted to frack the Ukraine. But, there was opposition. So, Royal Dutch Shell decided to create a junket for some of the Ukrainians opposed to fracking to show them just how wonderful fracking is. They were going to bring the Ukrainians to northeastern Pennsylvania, and give them an all-expenses-paid four day tour. The tour was to begin at the end of July. Other shale gas corporations have created press junkets, where they lay out a nice day or two of activities, complete with handouts, trinkets, meals, and lodging. Members of the establishment press often go on these … Continue reading

‘Putting People over Profits’: The Fight Against Fracking

By Walter Brasch   Pennsylvanians want to put a moratorium on fracking. And it’s not just a few thousand, but a majority of the state’s residents. Pennsylvania lies in the heart of the Marcellus Shale, possibly the most productive shale for gas in the country. A joint University of Michigan/Muhlenberg College study reveals that only 49 percent of Pennsylvanians support shale gas extraction and 58 percent of all Pennsylvanians want the state to order “time out” until the health and environmental effects of fracking can be fully analyzed. That same study revealed that 60 percent of Pennsylvanians believe fracking poses a major risk to ground water resources, only 28 percent disagree; 12 percent have no opinion. Petitions with more than … Continue reading